made especially enjoyable by a wonderful mix of people
from around the world, many of whom we had never had the
pleasure of meeting before but will certainly want to see
again - people like Truc Tran from Norway, Duane
Jones and his wife Stefanie from Germany
and a number of newcomers from the U.S. and Canada
who are giving the industry an injection of fresh and
energetic entrepreneurial blood.
Carnival Inspiration anchored at Grand Cayman during
Many well-known veterans were
there too, including highly successful investors,
developers, attorneys and company executives, people like Gregg
McNair (PPX International), lead gen whiz Braden
Pollock (and his fiancee, best selling author, TV
personality and attorney Lisa
Bloom), Jason Boshoff (DomainHoldings
CEO), Donny Simonton, Alan Dunn, Paul Goldstone
and iGoldRush.com), Michael Ward (DirectNic), keynote
speaker David Sams and many more we will be talking
about and showing you photos of in this wire to wire recap
of the 2011 cruise.
McNair (left) greeted by DNCruise organizers Zezura
and Patrick Ruddell
when he arrived for the opening night cocktail party aboard
the Carnival Inspiration.
The adventure started Monday,
Sept. 5 (which was also the Labor Day national
holiday in America) when attendees boarded the Carnival
Inspiration for its 4pm departure from Tampa (a port we
found to be especially convenient since it is also our home
town). Just an hour after leaving the dock, everyone
gathered for the first time for a Welcome Aboard cocktail
from the DNCruise 2 opening night cocktail party, Sept. 5,
After the opening event, attendees
had a 90-minute break to explore the ship and get ready for
dinner at 8:15pm. All DNCruise guests had dinner together
throughout the week in our own reserved corner of the huge Inspiration
dining room. We switched tables each evening so we could get
to know a different group of people better with each
After dinner, PPX
Chairman Gregg McNair opened his suite for an open house
party that attracted most attendees (as well as ship
security personnel who turned up repeatedly to see where the
commotion was coming from!). Inspiration management wisely
decided to give McNair exclusive use of one of the ship's
lounges for a second party he hosted after dinner Thursday
night. It was all fairly cordial - I suspect that by this
point in his career Gregg (who is on the road almost year
around) knows every major hotel and ship security officer, customer
service rep and concierge on a first name basis!
McNair (center) welcomed attendees to the PPX
for an after dinner party Monday night (Sept. 5, 2011).
The next day - Tuesday, Sept. 6,
2011 - was a day at sea as the Inspiration steamed toward
its first destination, Grand Cayman (which would be reached
Wednesday morning). Patrick Ruddell programmed the day with
a full slate of interesting sessions covering a broad swath
of industry ground.
After opening remarks from
Patrick, the rest of the morning was spent with each
attendee coming forward to tell their fellow travelers a
little about themselves. That was one of my favorite things
abut the first DNCruise and was again this time. It's a
great way to put names and faces together and learn a little
bit about everyone in the group from the get
Kortikoski (.CO Registry) and Kevin Kopas
introduce themselves to fellow DNCruise 2
attendees Tuesday, Sept. 6.
After a lunch break, the ICM
Registry's Director of Sales, Vaughn Liley,
presented a session detailing the company's launch and plans
for the .xxx extension that went live the next day
when its sunrise period got underway.
ICM Registry's Vaughn Liley (standing) fills
attendees in on the new .xxx extension.
||After the lunch break, veteran domain
attorney Karen Bernstein followed up with advice on Legal
Strategies for Protecting Domain Names.
was up to bat next and delivered an informative, wide ranging
talk about the state of domain parking, the future of the
industry and ICANN issues.
The business day then closed with Morgan
Linton (a guy whom I knew was going places the first
time I met him) interviewing me in a Q & A session that
also covered a broad variety of topics and allowed us to
field questions from the audience as well.
Attorney Karen Bernstein
DN Journal's Ron Jackson (left) being
interviewed by Morgan Linton in Tuesday's
closing business session (photo courtesy of Michael
|The Tuesday night dinner was the
week's one night designated for "Cruise Elegant"
dress by Carnival and I must say our crowd cleaned up pretty
well! (other evenings were "Cruise Casual" nights
where it was hard to commit a fashion faux pas no matter how
hard you tried).
A scene from dinner Tuesday night. In the foreground
at left is Paul Goldstone. In foreground
right is Jazmin Carrillo and Susan
Tuesday night was also the one
night that there was no scheduled late night event, leaving
guests free to try their luck in the casino, visit
one of the ship's several lounges or turn in a bit early to
rest up for the very busy three days to come - a run that
would start with our arrival in Grand Cayman early Wednesday
morning (Sept. 7, 2011).
|Shortly after the Inspiration
anchored just offshore in Grand Cayman at 8am, shuttle boats
took us ashore where we transferred to buses for the short
drive to a local yacht club. Two roomy boats and a fleet of
jet skis were waiting there, ready to take us out on the
azure blue waters for the most highly anticipated day of
Also waiting was Frank Schilling,
one of the most successful and savvy domain investors of all
time. Frank lives on Grand Cayman and took the opportunity
to show industry visitors around the spectacular piece of
paradise he calls home.
The first stop for the various
watercraft we were on was a sandbar a couple of miles
offshore that served up one of the most stunning
ever seen. We were told we would be stopping there to
"swim with the sting rays." Oooh....BAD idea
I thought! We have sting rays where I live in Tampa and they
are known to, well, sting you! It doesn't feel good
either. My trepidation wasn't eased when I heard the species
inhabiting Grand Cayman waters were about 5-10 times
bigger than the ones in Tampa Bay.
Schilling greeted DNCruise 2 guests
Wednesday morning (Sept. 7) in Grand Cayman.
As we approached the sandbar I
could immediately see they were not joking. Dozens of huge
shadowy forms were swarming in the crystal clear
water that was only a couple of feet deep. I had never seen
sting rays that big. What I didn't know is that these sting
rays are teddy bears at heart. They are used to tourists
feeding them and as long as you don't make any threatening
moves, they are as docile as kittens.
welcome DNCruise 2 guests to Grand Cayman!
We all clambered into the warm
water and were awestruck when the rays allowed our guides to
pick them up, let us pet them, massage our backs with their
fins and even pucker up for a kiss! Truly an amazing
thing. I never thought anyone could upstage Frank at an
industry event, but these spectacular creatures may have
been the rare exception.
Jackson puckers up for a stingray kiss while Ron
Jackson is content
just to pet the creature (photo courtesy of Michael
After our unforgettable encounter
with the stingrays we re-boarded our boats and/or jet skis
and motored a bit further ahead to a beautiful coral reef
where we stopped for about a half hour of snorkeling in the
pristine waters that were even more stunning under gorgeous
go snorkeling in Grand Cayman (Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011)
exploring the reef it was on to our final destination - a
lunch at Rum Point that featured a personal pep talk from
industry champion Frank Schilling whose personal story has
served as a huge inspiration for the hundreds of domain
investors who followed him.
and below: Legendary domain investor Frank Schilling
talking to DNCruise guests
during an outdoor luncheon on Grand Cayman Island on
Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011.
Frank's talk it was time for the return trip to the
Inspiration that would be leaving Grand Cayman at 3pm
whether we were on board or not! Though the mind-blowing
scenery there tempted some of us to stay for good, we all
reluctantly said our goodbyes and got back to the big boat
just in time.
plenty of free time in late afternoon with many
using it to explore the shops on board or take a quick
siesta after the busy day in Grand Cayman. We re-convened
for dinner at 8:15, then it was on to the first of DNCruise's two popular
Game Nights. With a bevy of great
prizes donated by sponsors up for grabs, attendees were
divided into teams to compete in a variety of games starting
with Taboo and ending with the individuals on the
winning team going head to head in Jenga to see who
would take home the treasure.
Ward feels the pressure in the Jenga playoff that
determinef prize winners.
Mudflap bested the competition in Taboo, Michael Law
wound up outdueling teammate Michael Ward in
Jenga to claim the top prize - an Ipad 2. While I
played a key (and embarrassing) role in my team's early exit
in the Taboo round, my wife Diana contributed to the winning team's
effort (which I'm sure I will be hearing about until
DNCruise leaves port in 2012!) and she went on to claim an Amazon
Kindle with 4th place in the individual competition -
very impressive for a Jenga rookie.
Winners! Team Mudflap (left to right): Diana Jackson,
Oscar Correa, Michael Ward,
Susan Lawrence, Charlotte Gilbert & Michael
Law. Michael Law wound up claiming the top
prize, an iPad 2, when the teammates went head to head
in Jenga to determine who got what.
is a great relationship building experience. I had sat out
last year to concentrate on taking pictures but saw people
having so much fun decided to play this time around, even
though I had never played any of the games before. My
teammates would have been better off if I had stayed behind
the camera but it was still a blast going into battle with
Team KickAss (though more than a little humbling to have to
change our name to "Team Got Their Ass Kicked"
thanks to me!)
there was little time to dwell on defeat. The next morning,
Thursday, Sept. 8, we arrived in Cozumel, Mexico
at 11am. Cozumel has many attractions and attendees went off
in a lot of different directions to experience them. Since
this was our first time there, Diana and I decided to
spend our time ashore exploring San Miguel (the
island's only town). As I wrote in a Lowdown
post when I returned home, we started that day
in Cozumel in a small group led by Gregg McNair that wound
up in a second floor cantina enjoying margaritas for
breakfast! We spent the rest of the day exploring shops and
admiring the local scenery before returning to the
View of the Carnival Inspiration in the harbor at Cozumel,
taken from inside the
Mexican cantina where our group had "breakfast"
Thursday morning (Sept. 8).
Silhouetted in the right foreground are Jodi
Chamberlain and Gregg McNair.
The colorful Plaza del Sol in downtown San Miguel.
left Cozumel at 8pm, right before our usual group dinner
hour. After another lively meal completed with impromptu
entertainment instigated by the service staff, it was on to
Gregg McNair's second PPX party - this one moved to the
Rhapsody in Blue Lounge. Oddly, having been given a place
where we could make all of the noise we wanted - guests
spent that evening for the most part engaged in quiet
conversations. I guess there was no challenge with security
staff taken out of the equation! Even so it was a very
enjoyable change of pace (always pleasant to be able to hear
yourself think!) and Gregg, as always, was the perfect host.
day, Friday, Sept. 9 would be another full day at sea as the
ship made its way back to Tampa. Patrick again came up with
a timely conference program with every session
devoted to domain development. But before those sessions got
underway at 11, the women in our group held a Ladies Only
session hosted by Zezura Ruddell and Charlotte
Gilbert at 9:30. I've often said that I thought this
business would benefit by having more women in it (I wrote an early
Cover Story on that topic in 2005), so anything
that provides support and encouragement for women in our
industry is a great thing in my opinion.
Palm (left) looks on as Zezura Ruddell and Charlotte
conduct a Ladies Only session Friday morning (Sept.
development sessions got underway with an hour anchored by WhyPark.com's
Craig Rowe titled Think Big - Large Scale Development.
Craig is a very good speaker, who blends great information
with wry humor in package that never disappoints. Morgan
Linton (accompanied on the cruise by his lovely fiancée
Daina Burnes) followed with another rewarding session
on Brand Building Basics.
After lunch Braden
Pollock (LegalBrandMarketing.com) kicked off the
afternoon with an illuminating session on his specialty Lead
Generation. Braden is doing some very exciting things on
the monetization front and I am going to be doing a piece
with him soon so we can go into more detail about that. This
is the first time I've been able to spend a lot of
time talking with Braden and it was one of the highlights of
the trip, as was getting to chat with his brilliant and
personable fiancée Lisa Bloom.
Pollock and Lisa Bloom (photo courtesy of Jason
& Tosha Boshoff)
One of the
real advantages a conference/cruise has is being able to bring
a relatively small number of people together in a casual
environment over an extended period of time. It allows in-depth conversations and real relationship building to
blossom in a way that is hard to replicate in more
discussion on the finer points of SEO featuring three
experts on the topic; Craig Rowe, Brian Gilbert
and Jason Boshoff, added another productive hour to
SEO panel discussion featured (left to right)
Craig Rowe, Brian Gilbert and Jason Boshoff.
portion of DNCruise then concluded with a grand finale - an
excellent keynote address from David Sams. David has
a remarkable media background that spans success in radio,
TV and the Internet. He was part of the original King
Syndicate team that put the Oprah Winfrey
show on TV in the mid 80's - a program that went on to make
TV history. Again, the amount of ground we have to cover in
this review won't allow me to go into more detail here, but
I'll be telling you much more about David's story in a
separate article before this month is out.
Sams delivering his keynote DNCruise 2 keynote
address Friday, Sept. 9.
David's keynote, Patrick Ruddell offered his closed remarks
and also oversaw a DNCruise tradition, bringing out a cake
for those having September birthdays so we could all
celebrate with them.
Ruddell and Caitlin from Carnival Cruise Lines
get ready to cut and serve birthday
cake to DNCruise 2 guests after the final business
session Friday (Sept. 9, 2011).
we had already had our dessert that didn't deter anyone from
showing up for the closing night dinner!
great week in the Caribbean gave DNCruise 2
guests good reason to
celebrate at the closing night dinner (Friday, Sept. 9).
Braden Pollock gets
ready to pour a glass of champagne for Nancy Bianchi
it was time for the final event of DNCruise 2 - Game Night
#2. This time the action got underway with Trivial
Pursuit. That round ended almost as quickly as it began
with the winning team zipping around the board before you
could bat an eye. They had the good fortune to draw an
unbelievable unending string of softball questions, ones
that had my teammate Braden Pollock, spouting an impromptu a
series of his own queries that had me in stitches - gems
like "toes are found where - on the hands or the
feet?" and "True or false - The moon is made of
cheese?" Call us sore losers but Braden's wit took some
of the sting out of defeat :-)
on the winning team squared off in Hedbanz to see
who would claim what from the pile of cool prizes. I was long gone and
sound asleep when the matter was decided in the wee hours of
the morning, but I understand
that one of our favorite up and coming young domainers,
Oscar Correa, wound up claiming the top prize - another
of the winning team on Game Night 2 go head head in Hedbanz
to determine the prize order. Oscar Correa, who was
also on the winning
team on Game Night 1, wound up collecting the top prize - an
By the time
we woke up Saturday morning, Sept. 10, the Inspiration was
already docking in Tampa. We all packed up and went our
separate ways but left with some very special memories and
richer relationships than we had when we had gotten onboard
five days earlier.
DNCruise rolls around again in 2012 it is an experience you
really should consider and as I mentioned earlier, for
attendees, it is one of the great bargains in the
conference business. A large group of generous sponsors
makes it possible for Patrick to keep guest's costs down, so
I wanted to recognize them by closing this article with a roll call of the companies that contributed to
making this such an accessible and
rewarding event: Moniker/SnapNames,
Registry (.xxx), Parked.com,
J. Bernstein, Attorney at Law, DomainAdvisors.com,
Registries (both operated by Neustar) and ScienceFiction.com.